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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Charities that fail to follow best practice can have no excuses

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Charities and how they are run are again under the spotlight, with revelations about the manner in which the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (Glen) exercised extremely bad practice in the use of credit cards.

It is a small organisation - although it enjoyed an enviable annual income of more than €685,000. But there were a staggering seven credit cards in use.

While the report by external consultant Jillian van Turnhout concluded that there was no evidence of misappropriation of money, it raises serious issues about governance and the culture that is part of many charities.

This was not Tidy Towns committee, but was overseen by a board and experienced executives.

The public rightly believes that organisations that enjoy that level of funding from the State and the public should have the strictest code of behaviour.

There are plenty of courses and training available to fine-tune the skills of those running charities, so there is no excuse for any failure to meet standards.

The charity sector in Ireland has suffered a setback in public confidence and there is little time for any organisation that fails to recognise this point. Now that the Charities Regulator is in place, the sector will face greater scrutiny.

One of disappointments about Glen so far has been the refusal of some of the key members of its boards to respond directly to questions from the media.

The Charities Regulator is correct in saying that the buck stops with the trustees.

It is not enough to hire a public relations company to liaise with the media if controversy arises.

The general public gives generously to charities.

It deserves direct answers and accountability from the boards members of these organisations.

Journalists will continue to investigate and probe.

Charities need to remember that we are in a new era of transparency and the scrutiny will only intensify.

It is no less than the kind and compassionate people who continue to donate to charities deserve.

Irish Independent

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